Columnists are starting to blame voters for the rise of Donald Trump, and say their collective decision to make him the presumptive Republican nominee is a terrible mistake.
Liberal columnist Richard Cohen wrote in the Washington Post on Monday that the election has filled him with a sense of "fear of my fellow Americans."
"I don't mean the occasional yahoo who turns a Trump rally into a hate fest," he wrote. "I mean the ones who do nothing. Who are silent. Who look the other way… I always knew who Trump was. It's the American people who have come as a surprise.
Conservative writer Michael Gerson, also of the Post, blamed GOP voters for thrusting Trump into the general election.
"The GOP has selected someone who is unfit to be president, lacking the temperament, stability, judgment and compassion to occupy the office," he said Monday. "This is a terrible error, which has probably cost conservatives a majority on the Supreme Court. But the mistake was made by Republican primary voters in choosing Trump — not by those who can't, in good conscience, support him."
Gabriel Schonfeld, a writer for the New York Daily News, even proposed that Trump's supporters, should the candidate become president, be held responsible in some way.
"All Trump voters," wrote Schonfeld in April, "can and should be held to account for embracing a candidate whose character is so dubious, and whose plans for the country — among them, singling out a religious group for a ban on an entry to the United States — amount to an assault on the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution."
Since Trump launched his campaign last summer, the national press has grappled with understanding both his appeal and the enthusiasm among his supporters, and failed to anticipate how a political novice and former reality TV star could capture the nomination of a major party.
At times, reporters and journalists have even blamed themselves for "creating" Trump.
"Our role is, or should be, to provide the information essential for voters to make an informed decision," wrote liberal Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus in early May. "We fell short."
But surveys consistently show that Trump's assault on so-called "political correctness" and calls to crack down on illegal immigration are popular among his most hardcore supporters, even as they leave the media aghast.
New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wrote last week that he now prefers not to speak about politics with Trump supporters within his own circles of family and friends.
"I have many relatives who loyally vote Republican, regardless of their excitement about the particular nominee. There's a definite chance that some of them back Trump. So I steer clear of talk about this election, though we've spoken plenty — and placidly — about every other election," wrote Bruni. "One of these relatives routinely pushes back at any Trump-negative columns I write, and I've convinced myself that he's just baiting me and playing devil's advocate. I've never said to him, point blank, 'Are you actually voting for Trump?' And I won't. It's my goal to get to and through Election Day without learning the truth."